Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Forget origin of life problem, it turns out nothing is “truly alive”

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Earlier, we opined that the origin of life problem is solved (or anyway hugely advanced to a solution) by just tuning out the solution-of-the-month and recognizing that there is something wrong with the way it is being pursued. New York Times science writer Ferris Jabr sure goes us one better in “Why nothing is truly alive”:

Not only is defining life futile, but it is also unnecessary to understanding how living things work. All observable matter is, at its most fundamental level, an arrangement of atoms and their constituent particles. These associations range in complexity from something as simple as, say, a single molecule of water to something as astonishingly intricate as an ant colony. All the proposed features of life – metabolism, reproduction, evolution – are in fact processes that appear at many different regions of this great spectrum of matter. There is no precise threshold.

Some things we regard as inanimate are capable of some of the processes we want to make exclusive to life. And some things we say are alive get along just fine without some of those processes. Yet we have insisted that all matter naturally segregates into two categories – life and nonlife – and have searched in vain for the dividing line.

It’s not there. We must accept that the concept of life sometimes has its pragmatic value for our particular human purposes, but it does not reflect the reality of the universe outside the mind.

But how would this impact origin of life research?

Some of us would have said that the key characteristic of life is its immensely higher level of information (not complexity as such) than non-life.  Thoughts?

See also: Origin of life problem solved! (Deafness is a pretty radical solution so try selective deafness instead.)

Is there a good reason to believe that life’s origin must be a fully natural event?

Science-Fictions-square.gif Here’s a quick summary of the avenues that have been tried, at one handy go: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life)

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Comments
6th February 2015, 12:51 AM Is the earth a dead planet? If we are only Bio-machines, artificial life forms, bio-technologies. Then would that mean all "life is artificial too? Then that would mean earth is not teaming with "Life" after all. Then would that not redefine our earth as a dead planet. A machine planet, sort of like Veger in star trek of sorts. http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a.../tmphd2561.jpgresearcherTony
March 3, 2015
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Is the earth a borg planet - BIO-Machines RULE http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=288553 With all these sci-fi movies and shows these days many ideas of what life could be come up in the topics. The Doctor, and holow projection. The borg half machine and half humanoid. Even Data in the star trek - next generation. So what is going on in the real world of biology, the question is what really is life. Does man have a soul or spirit or even a life force. Or is he just a machine? Have we even found any living force or living matter in our structures? Can you find anything at all that is truly alive in you. Is your DNA alive, is your molecular machinery that reads the code of DNA alive? Is the word "ALIVE" just a Mythical story. False stories of the paranormal that do not really exist. Is alive just an illusion of smoke and mirrors of our imagination. We want to believe, so it becomes true, because we will it to be so.... FORUMresearcherTony
March 3, 2015
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I was taught in school that biology is the study of life. Based on the OP, should biology not be considered a true scientific endeavor since nothing is truly alive? There is nothing more amusing than watching materialists and atheists tie themselves up in philosophical knots, looking for solutions and answers to problems that exist only because they refuse to acknowledge design.Barb
March 15, 2014
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The author's comments are par for the materialist course these days--not enough time for a random evolutionary process to "create" all we see? Invent multiverses! Not able to even remotely understand how life could emerge from a soup of chemicals? Say that there is no distinction between non-living and living!OldArmy94
March 15, 2014
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BA its interesting that you brought up the Pam Reynolds veridical nde case because what she saw in that operation room when she was clinically dead was verified by the doctors and nurses in that operation room. Her eyes were taped shut, she had specially molded earplugs put into her ears and she had a device inserted into her ears that made a loud clicking noise. There was no materialistic way she could have seen what she had seen , yet she saw it and as she went deeper into death a tunnel or vortex opened up and that is where she saw the brilliant light that was more loving then anything she had seen on this earth. What I can't believe is that there are actually skeptics that still deny has wasnt awake even though doctor spitzer made no qualms about the fact that she wasn't and the devices that were monitoring her even confirmed what doctor spitzer said. Atheists/materialists just can't get themselves admit this because they are dogmatically married to their anti scientific cult of a worldview.wallstreeter43
March 14, 2014
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I like JP Moreland's definition of a 'life/soul' at the 9:15 minute mark in the following video:
Is the Soul Immortal? (J.P. Moreland) - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7nqB7SH-7s
The Bible is pretty clear in its definition(s) of death
James 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead,,,, Biblical Definition of Death as separation Excerpt: Death means separation between two things: 1. Physical Death The separation of the body and soul 2. Spiritual Death The separation of the man from God 3. Hell as the second spiritual separation from God http://www.bible.ca/d-death=separation.htm
Also of interest to the Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism debate, information in its biological sense 'disappears' upon death:
The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings - Steve Talbott Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-unbearable-wholeness-of-beings
Which is interesting since 'information', though it may be encoded onto a material basis, is transcendent of any material basis:
Intelligent design: Why can't biological information originate through a materialistic process? - Stephen Meyer - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8 “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin? And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires. Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.” -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.
Thus the question becomes, where does this transcendent information, that is apparently keeping the material body alive, go upon the death of the material/temporal body? Pam Reynold's comments on seeing here temporal body in her Near Death Experience at the 9:20 mark of the following video
"It (my body) looked like pretty much what it was. As in void of life." The NDE of Pam Reynolds - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNbdUEqDB-k Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff - video (notes in description) http://vimeo.com/29895068
Verse and Music:
Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.,,,” The Police – Spirits in the Material World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq0KW-_48Cc&feature=player_detailpage#t=62s
bornagain77
March 14, 2014
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